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How to use networking to land your first graduate role

It can be really hard to jump into networking when you’re fresh out of university – it’s most likely that you’ve never done it before, and it can be quite intimidating to walk into a room of professionals and try to essentially sell yourself and what you do.

But, using networking to your advantage can be a fantastic tool in getting to know people in your desired industry and, hopefully, landing yourself your ideal first graduate role.

Combining what you know with who you know is a great strategy to help you take your first step on to the career ladder – and there’s lots of ways to do it.

Use your university

It’s your university’s job to get you ready for the workplace, and part of that includes delivering careers services and working with employers to offer you as many pathways into industry as possible.

Start taking notice of the emails your university sends out to students about job vacancies, internships and any work experience in your chosen field – you never know, there might just be a golden opportunity hiding in your university inbox.

Taking the time to research into and attend career fairs is also invaluable. Though it might seem hard to really connect with employers at such a large event, make an effort to look into who will be there and striking up a conversation with them. It’s unlikely they’ll offer you a job there and then (although you never know!) but they’ll probably know your name and face if they come across you again, and that is a valuable connection.

And, most importantly – don’t wait until final year to start doing these things. You most likely have three years to make the most of your university resources, so don’t waste them.

Get social networking

You probably use social media for personal networking every day – why not utilise it for professional networking too? You may not have seen the need to build your LinkedIn profile before now, but start working on it during your time at university. Include your education, as well as any experience you have, and bulk out the descriptions by explaining the skills you’ve used and learnt.

Start making virtual connections too – hunt down decision makers and businesses in your field of interest that are local to you and invite them to connect with you. This gives you a digital network to share content with, as well as a news feed of potential vacancies for you to apply for.

Previous work experience

If you have done an internship, or any work experience in the past, these are perhaps the most vital networking connections you can have, because they’re from real people working in your industry. Keep in touch with whomever you worked for regularly, email them now and then asking how they are doing and letting them know what you’re up to, and when the time comes that you’re looking for a job, they’ll be more likely to recommend you for a role because you’ve made such a positive impression.

Personal connections

Don’t forget about your own personal network, including friends, family and anyone else you know outside of work. There’s nothing wrong with utilising the connections of the people you already know – it can actually be an advantage, because they’re more likely to want to help and give you a glowing recommendation.

Once you’re looking for work, spread the word around your personal social networks as well as professional ones, and think about any members of your family that could have a direct or indirect connection to someone in your industry.

Networking is one of the most effective ways to promote yourself, and get yourself known in your chosen industry. For more advice on professional networking, and to see if we have any roles that are right for you, get in touch with our team by emailing hello@gradvert.com.

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